On Hold

July is less frantic than June, but still very busy.

The garage roof project was put on hold for a few days.

Last weekend we spent our first night at the Rideau Camp in 2018. The mice had been in again, but none were trapped. The cleanup of their droppings took about four hours. I hate mice, no matter how cute they might be, I despise them. Steel wool was stuffed into additional openings, and Attila is researching removing the undercarriage and sealing it with insulation and hardware cloth.

The army worms are no longer on the trunks of trees. The ones we did not manage to destroy have eaten a lot of leaves, but they have not stripped the trees, so there is still a beautiful canopy. Two elm trees died since our last visit, which is sad, but we knew that our elm trees would not live long lives. I have been carefully protecting the maples, birch, oak, and pine trees surrounding the camp, knowing that eventually they would be all that was left as the elms and ashes were destroyed by insects and disease.

The visit to the Camp was a fun one once the unwanted tasks were completed, blue skies, trees, quiet, bird song, and a starry heaven at the end of the day. It was lovely.

Everything was so very dry! Our little swamp was completely dry, giving Attila the opportunity to pull out dead branches and a stump. It was so dry that we decided not to have a camp fire, there was a bit of wind, and it didn’t seem worth the risk. Because it is dry we had only a half a barrel of water in our rain barrel, which we use to douse our camp fire. It was enough to douse a camp fire, but it would not have been enough to deal with a spark catching a dry patch of dead grass, or something similar. We enjoyed sitting under the stars instead, so bright, so reliable, so unconcerned with us, and yet part of us, as we are part of the universe.

Monday was a very exciting day. An early morning call from Lares, they were on their way to the hospital. That evening little Willow was born, 9 pounds, 12 hours of labour. Tuesday evening Terra arrived home with Willow. We visited, and once Willow was in my arms I could not give her up until she demanded to be fed, so back to Mama. I experience falling in love in an instant, I am aware of it happening, such a wonderful, wonderful feeling. Those roving newborn eyes, suddenly fixing on my face, gazing at me with such curiosity, concentration, acceptance, love at first sight. This happened with my children when they were put in my arms after their births, and with every single one of my Grandbabies.

Today is sunny and mild and just about perfect. Early this morning the Installer arrived to replace the broken window pane on our new living room window. The window pane arrived cracked, when it was installed in March, and it has taken this long for the window manufacturer to supply the company, that did the window installation, with the replacement. It took only 30 minutes for the fellow to replace the pane, and he parged one of the basement windows, where I didn’t know it needed it! He will come back to caulk the window when the parge has cured.

I was just watching a video made by a family who rely exclusively on a solar system for their electricity. She said that when they had hydro service, they used 60 kWh per day. I looked up our peak usage, 36.5 kWh per day, used during a month when the temperature was on average -1C, and the ground source heat pump would have provided most of our heat.

The video creator also mentioned that relying on a solar system for their electricity, they use between 4 and 10 kWh per day, running only a refrigerator 24 hours a day. Our lowest usage was 22.3 kWh per day, during a month that required some use of the heat pump for heat, and a few days where only the very basic electrical appliances were operated.

We are in between the two extremes she describes, 4 kWh and 60 kWh. Our usage varies between the monthly average of 22.3 kWh per day and 36.5 kWh per day, which includes our heat source in the winter. I think that here at Mist Cottage the strategies to curtail the use of electricity have been relatively successful.

We could lower our usage by insulating the basement, upgrading the scanty insulation in the walls of the house, replacing the drafty entrance doors, and upgrading to energy efficient appliances. The chest freezer comes to mind. I purchased it from a family moving to another area, for $100. It was very beat up, the lid caved in a bit, and it is far from being energy efficient. But I could afford it at the time, and it works well, although expensively. The energy efficient freezer that I had at the Country House, was much larger, but it stayed with the Country House, a condition of sale. I miss that freezer!

Since I have applied for a grant program that might help us make some of the upgrades to reduce electricity consumption, I am afraid that the measures already taken here are so successful that that it might be deemed that we don’t need the available upgrades. I certainly hope that is not the case… We do need the upgrades, because at some point in the nearing future Attila will retire without a pension, and survival is going to get a lot more challenging than it is now. Also, I would dearly love to use a little more electricity to cook dinner at dinner time, instead of trying to plan meals around hydro prices, and laundry, and vacuuming, and… well the list goes on of what I cannot do at certain times of day.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

22°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Wednesday 11 July 2018
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 22.3°C
Dew point: 9.8°C
Humidity: 44%
Wind: ENE 14 km/h
Humidex: 23
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“It’s like your batteries get low, and you need to charge them on someone else’s story.”
Margaret Cho

I’m feeling this one right now!

Pressure Canning

I am getting better at this pressure canning thing! One of the features/challenges of the All American Pressure Canner is the metal to metal seal. There is no gasket to replace.

The metal to metal seal takes some getting used to. My first foray into pressure canning was pressure canning beans, while we were at the little house. I had a 100% success rate, the jars all sealed properly. But getting it done kept me hopping, and wondering, the whole time. There was some venting around the seal at that time, but it was not serious enough to drop the pressure. During that first experiment I was afraid that the canner would run dry, run out of water. When I opened it up I discovered that my fears were groundless, almost laughable. There was almost the same amount of water in the canner at the end of the process, as there was at the beginning of the process.

Yesterday I used the All American to pressure cook ten pounds of vegetables at a go. It worked very well. But there was a significant amount of venting in three spots around the seal. I thought about it, and decided it could be down to one of two things, or both of them. First, there might not have been enough lubricant applied to the area of the seal that vented. Second, the lid might not have been adequately levelled to ensure a good seal.

The first possibility was addressed by applying olive oil to the areas of the seal where venting had occurred. The second possibility was addressed by seeking out an object with which to measure the gap between the lid and the canner, to ensure the gap was equal all the way around. I tried a table fork handle, too thin. I tried a clothespin, too thick. I tried this and that, until finally I got out a bag of Ikea allen keys, and one of them was perfect. That allen key is now kept in the envelope with the weight gauge, so it will be handy for every canning session.

This morning Attila requested canned beans for supper. I agreed to postpone processing the last ten pounds of carrots, so as to focus on canning more Chili Beans.

When it came time to close up the canner, I measured the gap precisely, and very carefully applied equal pressure to opposite tightening screws. The proof is in the pudding as they say, and my hunches were correct, the added lubricant (olive oil), and the careful measurement of the gap, and tightening of the screws, succeeded in preventing venting around the seal.

I didn’t manage to get the heat turned low enough though, to keep the weight gauge rattling only several times a minute. That gauge rattled nonstop the whole 90 minutes of processing, as I kept lowering and lowering the heat, by small increments. The pressure gauge read 11 pounds throughout the entire process. The water level was down when I opened the canner, but it was not in danger of going dry. Five of the seven quarts sealed immediately after I took them out of the canner, the rest sealed sometime during the morning.

When I opened the canner the water inside was little bit murky. A small amount of the jar contents had siphoned out. This probably occurred at the end of the canning process, when I released the pressure in the canner by removing the weight gauge. Note to self, wait a half an hour or more to remove the weight gauge, after the pressure gauge reads zero. It will be interesting to see if that solves the siphoning issue.

There is one ten pound bag of carrots waiting to be cooked tomorrow in the pressure canner, and then all of the bulk produce that was purchased will be preserved for winter use, and Attila will also have his beans.

The “new” spice rack at the little house in the city. This rack was on the wall when we moved into our country house. We are not knick knack people, so it sat empty on the wall for a year or so, then we took it down. Of course, as we usually do, we stored it away in case we needed it someday. It works perfectly at the little house in the city, as our “new” spice rack. Attila painted it to match the kitchen cupboards, and it graces the unused wall space behind the bifold door in the kitchen, well out of direct light. The 500 ml tinted mason jars fit perfectly into the openings! Eventually I will replace the two piece mason jar lids with one piece lids, which will be easier to manage during a cooking session.
Spice rack

Worldly Distractions

Weather

18°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Tuesday 23 September 2014
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 17.6°C
Dewpoint: 12.5°C
Humidity: 72%
Wind: W 17 km/h

Quote

“To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals.”
Benjamin Franklin
1706 – 1790

This is not true for the vast majority of humans who live on our planet, quite the opposite. I wish it was true for all of us though, I really do.